Bill seeks to outlaw online poker — again

Friday, February 17th, 2006 @ 9:22 pm | Current Events

U.S. Takes Aim at Online Gambling - Yahoo! News

Now, I’m willing to bet that a handful of you readers have partaken of online poker or some other kind of online wagering. While I don’t gamble very much, I do make a nice income from other people’s gambling activities.

Internet gambling is currently, and always has been, illegal in the U.S. But a slew of online gaming companies — some who are publically traded, such as online poker giant Party Gaming — have met the public’s desire for online gambling to the tune of $12 billion a year, much of it from U.S. customers.

Instead of legalizing, regulating and collecting taxes from online gambling, people like Virginia representatives Bob Goodlatte and Rick Boucher seek to criminalize it — a futile task considering that all online gambling companies do business outside of the U.S. where their activities are perfectly legal. Not to mention that this proposed legislation could conflict with a WTO decision that declared U.S. prohibitions on internet gambling as an unfair trade practice.

But let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth: “For too long our children have been placed in harm’s way as online gambling has been permitted to flourish into a $12 billion industry,” Goodlatte said in a statement. Hey, Bob? Kids don’t gamble; adults do. You’re basically telling adults what they shouldn’t do with their money in the privacy of their homes, in the name of “protecting the children.” Bullshit, Bob.

“These Internet gambling websites typically operate offshore and often serve as a prime vehicle for money laundering and other criminal enterprises.” Proof? Like I said, most online gaming companies are as reputable as Vegas casinos. They operate under the jurisdiction of their localities and international gaming authorities, and their random number generators are regularly audited by well-known accounting firms. By criminalizing them, you only make these unsavory activities more likely.

This isn’t the first time this bill has been introduced. It was voted down in 1999, due partly to the efforts of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But even with Jack out of the picture, I think it’s unlikely this thing is going to become law, since it’s largely unenforcable and will do little to stop online gambling.

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